Did Kripke Screw Over Sam Fans?
I will end all suspense, if there was any, and state unequivocally that the answer is no. No, Sam is not too stupid to live. No, Kripke did not screw over Sam fans. To believe that is to believe that the enemy is simple-minded and obvious in their ploys. To believe that is to believe that Sam is not a man of deep thoughts and deeper emotions. To believe that is to believe that all the rest of us were completely on board with the plan from The Pilot and somehow saw all this coming for 82 episodes. And, if that doesn't compel you to think differently about Sam, then how about this: To believe Sam is too stupid to live is to believe he is anything other than human.
Having read numerous threads about how fans have had it all figured out from way back when and then, after Lucifer Rising read about how fans never saw that coming, I'd have to say that Kripke caught some by surprise, others not so much and most loved the whole thing. Also, there is genius to insinuation, if we look at Meg's first attempt at enacting Azazel's plan to Ruby's we see that the enemy learned a lot. The genius of Ruby comes from what Meg learned and likely shared.
Azazel had a plan that took a long time to bring to fruition and only he knew what strings he was pulling and when. It is only now that we know way back in 1972 Azazel slew eight nuns and spoke to Lucifer who was locked in 'the pit.' In 1972 Azazel was told that Lilith, and only Lilith, could break the necessary seals to free Lucifer; 37 years later that plan looks to have succeeded.
Ever since 1972 Azazel had been out 'seeding' the landscape, as it were. He found breeding stock and wormed his way in so that he would have access. Anyone who wishes to state that Mary was weak, John was weak, Dean was weak, Sam was weak is welcome to make that affirmation, however, may I suggest trying to imagine yourself in their shoes"¦and the many others who apparently were equally willing to make that momentous decision when the time came. I can't say that I've ever been forced to make such a choice, so I for one will not judge any of the others that did.
The fact that Sam was not the only 'special' child tells us that Azazel was successful in making a multitude of deals that would later give him access to the infants. Using an infant is diabolically devious, they have no choice, are perfect victims -- don't talk about what happened, have no memory of what happened, cannot stop what is happening.
We also know that in no way was Azazel certain that Sam was the child to complete the task, as baby Rosie in Salvation is evidence. Azazel was patient, true evil is, it is slow, purposeful, careful, willing to back off and regroup when one course of action appears ineffective, and always, always, always vigilant looking for an opportunity; Winchester loyalty, Winchester self-sacrifice, Winchester pride.
I don't wish to offend anyone in the writing of this article so, when I started writing, I worked very hard to try to put myself in their shoes and understand why they think Sam is stupid, a fool, ineffective, rendered back to being a child who is incapable of being able to tie his own shoes, much less making decisions about what is or is not evil. I have a feeling some will be offended because try as I did throughout the writing, the watching of episodes and jotting notes, gathering of thoughts, formulating sentences and paragraphs and reordering things I find myself again and again clueless as to why some think Sam is stupid or rendered a fool.
I've never seen Sam as evil and Dean as good. I've never seen Dean as only holding Sam's 'cape' or Sam playing second fiddle in storylines. I don't see Dean as "˜Saint Dean' and Sam as 'Demon Sam'. I don't believe Sam is destined to destroy the world and Dean destined to save it. I know some call Dean the Jesus Christ of the Supernatural but that is pure lunacy - all right, I was quite forthright about that.
My point is is that there has been a very deliberate progression from Season 1 to Season 4 and no doubt to be built upon in Season 5. It's obvious to me that Eric Kripke has had a vision for the show that had a plan and a timetable. It's also obvious to me that at times he's had to contend with the reality of making a television show and that at times that plan has been expanded, contracted and expanded again. It's not his fault no one had a crystal ball and said, yes, Mr. Kripke, we've looked into the future and seen that indeed this show will be successful enough to warrant us giving you a five-year contract right now, in 2005, and guaranteeing that Supernatural will run for five seasons.
Still, despite the stops and starts, the uncertainties and the meddling, a writers' strike and the realities of budgets, we've gotten a story that has built slowly but surely from the first episode, the beauty is that along the way the writers have cleaned up, quite well, most issues that have arisen.
Having written some fanfiction that at most was about 50,000 words long; I know how easy it is to write yourself into a corner. I had the luxury to decide when to begin posting my fanfiction and I always waited until I was at least 50 percent written and about 75 percent drafted with 90 percent outlined before I dared to post the first chapter; series television doesn't have that luxury, these guys do awesome.
So, those of you willing to delve into this exploration with me will get to read my thoughts on Sam's journey as we know it. The genesis of this article came from someone posting on the "Damn you, Kripke" article that Sam was too stupid to live and that Sam fans were leaving in droves. That person is entitled to their opinion, even as I do not share it. Since I completely disagree with them, I thought I'd take some time to post my thoughts as to why. Here we go:
When we first meet Sam he's living a somewhat idyllic life, senior in college, about to score his law school dream, has a girl he loves, friends; I don't think he's thinking at all about his family other than he's where he is and they are where they are. I understand that level of separation, it's not hate, it's more of an understanding that he's here and they're there and life is just better that way. Fate intervenes, for Azazel was not about to let one of his 'special' children escape him. We must remember [since now we know] that this is 30 years after Azazel received his marching orders from Lucifer, he's made plans and Sam going to law school is not part of those plans.
Did Azazel envision Dean coming to get Sam and taking him off on a hunt? I don't know. I don't think it matters though because we've seen that Azazel can get to who he wants when he wants. Ava had her fiance and Azazel still took her when he was ready for her. Dean coming to get Sam that fateful weekend in November 2005 likely had no bearing on what Azazel did; he wanted Sam back in the game and he knew what he had to do"¦sorry Jessica.
For much of season one Sam is focused on one thing, revenge for Jessica's death. He goes along with Dean on the other hunts but there is forever that urge to find dad. He's burdened with guilt in Bloody Mary over his dreams but it's Asylum that finds him angry with Dean that they have had no contact with dad, going so far as to suggest that perhaps dad is dead. Good thing John decided to chime in at that moment with some further coordinates and off to Rockford, Illinois they go.
It's Scarecrow when things really get interesting, enter Meg. Meg is sent, we learn later, by Azazel; but not to kill the Winchesters. I suggest she was merely sent to see what mindset Sam was in at the time. It's interesting to note that Meg appears after John made contact with the boys and warned them that it was too dangerous, even talking on the phone. It is also interesting to note that Meg appears to Sam once he's away from Dean.
She presents a guise that shows just how aware she is of who Sam Winchester is and what are his thoughts, "because my family said so I'm supposed to sit there and do as I'm told, so I went on my own way instead." She's got your number, Sam. She appeals to his mindset at that moment and thus she's cast her line. Too bad a speed bump arises that causes her to revise her plan, enter Sam's loyalty and love to his family.
It's revealing that it wasn't that Dean came and got Sam that caused Sam to go back to hunting. I surmise had that happened Sam's stubborn pride would have caused him to go to California out of anger and spite. Not that Sam's petty but that he is his own person and not wanting to be 'hauled around like luggage.' Sam chose to go back to Dean. Scarecrow really didn't have the brothers that at odds with each other as they exchanged a phone call about the hunt. The substance of that phone call is crucial. Dean's willing acceptance of Sam's individuality took a lot of pressure off of Sam. Now, no longer needing to defend his own choices he was able to focus on the larger picture. When Dean became inaccessible by the phone, Sam never gave a second thought to his plans of traveling to California to find John.
Meg learned a valuable lesson, Sam's love and loyalty to Dean outweighs his need to find dad and enact revenge, the next time we see Meg she's got a different plan, more devious than the first.
Meg's next appearance is a trap laid out purely for the Winchesters. Again she appears harmless but quickly attempts to drive a wedge between the brothers; it works for all about a minute and a half. Her plan is wider though, it appears her desire is to kill John. Meg learns once again something we in the fandom have known all along, the Winchesters are at their best when they are together. It also proved to Meg what she already knew, John will come when his sons are in danger and he is vulnerable. Their plan almost worked, almost.
Meg learned a hard lesson though, the Winchester men are plenty bright and darn those Daevas will bite the hand that feeds them. She's a lot less subtle this time, willingly baiting the brothers and not at all caring to be hard to follow. She could have shaken Sam when he was following her but she had no intention of doing that. Her next few encounters with the Winchesters don't appear to do that much but in hindsight they do quite a lot. Sure, she ends up exorcised and sent back to hell but what did she get for her father in return? John served up nice and pretty on a platter and the Colt handed to him. Yeah, Azazel held all the cards on that one.
Sam really is his father's son, he has a single-mindedness about him that would have, and likely did, make John proud. It's also likely what frustrated John and Sam with each other; they were so very much alike. Sam may not have openly admitted to wanting to be like his dad, Dean carried that torch, as it were. The proof is there though that Sam cared very deeply what his father thought about him and he openly voiced it in ELAC; "For all I know he died thinking that I hate him - what I'm doing right now is too little too late. I miss him, man, and I feel guilty as hell."
Guilt is a powerful weapon and here it served to turn Sam's thought completely away from anything other than hunting. Season two has Azazel planning things a bit differently, instead of openly confronting Sam via Meg, he subtly pushes him in the directions he wants him to go, first through visions and encounters with more 'special children' [Simon Said] but also through exploration of his readiness [Croatoan]. BUABS is still one where I'm not 100 percent sure the plan, was this a two-fold attack? If it was it was quiet brilliant. Imagine being trapped inside your own body watching yourself do things, kill people, torture your brother. For someone like Sam, very much into being in control, what would that have done to him.
The other side of the attack appears to be Meg's more openly stated plan, push Dean and see if she could get him to waste Sam. Believing that Meg still had some attachment or loyalty to Azazel I find it hard to reconcile that she would have actually allowed Dean to kill Sam but it did serve a purpose, she got to torture Dean, physically and mentally, got Sam to doubt his ability to control his future, and had each brother wondering at their ability to protect the other, diabolical.
By the end of season two Sam is nearly convinced that he is destined to become evil, so much so that he got Dean to promise to kill him [Playthings], he's been confronted with other hunters killing special kids [Gordon], discovered that he had demon blood dripped into his mouth thus strengthening his belief that he is cursed, and now holds a secret so terrifying that he cannot bring himself to share it with Dean, their mother was killed because she recognized the YED when he came into his nursery. Now that's a wedge to drive between two brothers and it was done so subtly, so passively that the true damage comes not because of the deed done 23 years in the past, but because Sam cannot bring himself to tell Dean. This is the lie that starts all the others; this is the lie that makes all the other lies to come so much easier.
Enter Ruby, what Meg started Ruby continues. I don't know if Meg's story is complete - I sure hope that Ruby's is simply because as far as I can see we've gotten her beginning, her middle and her end; and what an end.
She mysteriously arrives, proves helpful, not only in killing demons but in repairing the Colt, tells Sam there's a bigger plan here and reveals that 'someone' went to a lot of trouble to cover it up, and dangles the best bait ever, "I can help you with Dean." Hooked.
Season 3 is all about Ruby's beginning, she lures Sam along with tidbits of information and when she really needs to set her claws she strikes at her most vulnerable line of offense, Dean. Dean is a hindrance to her ability to really affect Sam so she has to off balance him; she does so brilliantly. Ruby not only saves Dean's life but she tells him that all demons were once human and if that was not enough she appeals to that part of him that he can never deny, "You have to help me get Sam ready to fight this war without you." Brilliant.
Ruby, having delivered a performance worthy of an Oscar slithers off to wherever she slithers off to and lets time do its work. Her next appearance allows her to drive a wedge between the two and allows her to check Sam's status, how far is Sam willing to go? Will he kill one innocent under the guise of saving many? Sam does not give a complete answer here but it is quite obvious that he it deeply conflicted, save 30 plus people by sacrificing one "“ might be the way to go. Trouble is Dean is still around and his influence remains strong. Were Lilith and Ruby not working in concert that plan, which succeeded, would have remained successful. But Lilith and Ruby have bigger fish to fry so for no reason, other than to deepen a rift between the brothers, Lilith comes and slays all those at the precinct and Ruby deliver her "I told you so" speech. Effective.
Ruby does slip her game face from time to time, trapped in a devil's trap she shows her true colors, then again her easy escape from the trap shows that her part in this scheme was not done. Lilith delivers the final blow, killing Dean and dragging his soul to hell, while a helpless Sam watches. I believe Lilith knew that Sam was immune to her powers, perhaps that is the lesson of Croatoan. She disappears and allows Ruby to return to begin the part of training Sam.
Here is where Ruby really shines, she's patient and firmly in control. She saves Sam, after setting him up with another demon, and then agrees to find a more suitable body simply because Sam balks. I doubt she expected that level of morality but having a much bigger plan in mind she displays a willingness to go along. This unsettles Sam, even though he is too lost in his grief to fully accept what it means, still it shifts his thought process on who and what Ruby is.
Her plan works well until a speed bump appears; Dean is raised from hell by forces unknown. Ruby shows just how masterful she is at her game of illusion and deceit as she offers to step back and give Sam and Dean some time, "I mean, I'm not exactly in your brother's fanclub. But he is your brother, and I'm not going to come between you." This is evil at its most patient, its most controlling and its most dangerous. Either way this works is a win/win for her, if Sam suggests they back off a bit, Ruby can gallantly take the 'high road' and say no problem, contact me when you're ready to resume. If, as is what happens, Sam says he wants to continue, she confirms what she already suspects, she's got a good hook into him and she can simply ascent to his wishes. Pure evil, purely perfect.
It's notable that she does back off a bit, especially after Sam makes the decision to stop. She makes another approach when the timing is right, figuring she's got a good opportunity at hand [IKWYDLS and HAH]. She's got to contend with Dean knowing about her presence so she slips back into the role we'd seen during season 3. Fortunately for her and her plans, she's got Sam fairly convinced of her genuineness and because all lies have an element of truth well, the really good ones that is, she's able to unbalance Dean again because she did, in fact, save Sam's life. The fact that Alastair caught her, a trap she willingly walked into, only added to her cachet of being worthy of trust.
Ruby's no fool though, having gained Dean's grudging acceptance, minimal that I believe it was, she keeps her profile low and does not attempt to contact Sam with Dean around. She slips back under Sam's defenses and reminds him that Lilith is breaking seals faster and faster and uses Sam's desire to have all this over with to set firmly her hook, again. She also furthers her hold on Sam by appearing to come when called to assist him in saving Dean from torturing Alastair which gets Sam to the place where she wants him most, able to kill.
Having played upon his love and loyalty to family she's cleverly danced around his less noble characteristics of pride and obsessive need for revenge. Now that he's proven to be able to protect Dean, in fact, save him from a death - one he couldn't save him from before - Sam has unlocked his pride and need for control and Ruby's manipulated it all along.
Of course there is another wonderful little part here that needs to be played and this time it's not Ruby playing it but Lilith. Lilith comes to fully test the readiness of Sam and ensure that all of Dean's meddlesome questions get put to rest. Someone needs to drive the final wedge and while Ruby's done an admirable job sometimes the boss needs to step in; enter Lilith.
I have no belief that Lilith ever intended to 'stand down' nor did she intend to let Sam kill he, nor did she intend to kill Sam, although I'm not so sure about Dean. No, Lilith's intent was to assure herself of Sam's readiness to do his final part and to focus Sam purely on one thing, kill Lilith. It worked.
After that little encounter with Lilith Sam is no longer having any doubts about right or wrong, what Dean is doing or not doing; Sam is focused on one thing, kill Lilith. It's notable that after this Ruby does her disappearing act, ensuring Sam's withdrawal. I doubt she foresaw the bloodletting of the ghouls but the fact that she didn't come any faster after that episode is proof that she intended to have Sam endure that agony. Likely she and Lilith were off breaking seals while Sam suffered but no matter, the stage was set.
Ruby arrives "just in time" to assist Sam in amping his powers back up to the levels to kill Lilith, just in time for the final breaking of the seal, on the right night, at the right place, perfect. Sam was pushed, beguiled, deceived all along the way and no wonder, lies that are sprinkled with truth work every time and when the demons know the plan and no one's weaknesses, family, loyalty, obsession, pride and need for control, they'll twist them and use them.
Ruby promised to help save Dean if Sam would just trust her. Ruby claimed she wanted Lilith dead and needed Sam to do it. Ruby offered support and friendship, emotional intimacy and physical release when Sam was grieving and alone. She gave Sam space, saved Dean's life, restored the Colt, that Lilith got out of the way anyway, killed demons, got beat up and nearly killed. Ruby's plan was brilliant, the fact that it worked in no way makes Sam stupid. She had all the cards, all the time and played them just when she needed to.
We've seen it - unless Kripke has another card up his sleeve. Ruby's exclamation of "I'm awesome!" and going back and watching her with fresh and knowledgeable eyes and minds, show her end, Ruby was in cahoots with Lilith and loyal to one plan, free Lucifer.
Was Sam stupid? No. Was Sam prideful? Yes. Does that make him any less of a hero? No. He is human and for that it makes him someone to identify with, to have sympathy for, a hero to root for. We get to see his desirable qualities, ability to have compassion for others, wish to do well, save people, and we get to see his less desirable qualities, pride, and obsession, his thirst for revenge. To me it makes him interesting to watch as he struggles with his 'curse', as he struggles to use it for good and now to watch him as he struggles to deal with the aftereffects. I can't wait to see what he does in season 5.
So there you go, I present Is Sam to Stupid to Live"¦make your own decisions, you already know my thoughts.
Thanks for reading.